1 The Muppet Mindset: Muppet Retro Reviews - Muppet Sing Alongs: Muppet Treasure Island

Jan 7, 2013

Muppet Retro Reviews - Muppet Sing Alongs: Muppet Treasure Island

Hubert A. - Muppet Sing Alongs: Muppet Treasure Island is a video from the Muppet Sing Along series released in 1996 to coincide with the release of the movie Muppet Treasure Island. In this half-hour of Muppet fun, writer Joey Mazzarino and the Muppets take viewers on a fun, upbeat ride through pirate life. The video has the pirate trio of Clueless Morgan, Bad Polly, and Mad Monty trying to convince Kermit that being a pirate has its merits.
   
When I first sat down to watch this video about ten years ago, I expected it to go through each Muppet Treasure Island song, with small Muppet segments serving as transitions. I was surprised to find that this tape only features two songs from the movie: "Sailing For Adventure" and "Cabin Fever." The rest of the production is made of original content, which turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
   
After "Sailing for Adventure," each of the three pirates show Kermit their favorite pirate songs, which are each a variation of an existing children's song. Clueless Morgan leads a group of pirates in "I'm a Little Pirate," Mad Monty sings "There Was an Old Pirate" to Bad Polly's shadow puppetry, and Polly sings "Old Bad Polly" on a small boat. After Polly's song, he falls into the ocean and sings "I'm a Rock" to a group of clams who claim him as dinner. Kermit then turns the focus to the boars, who sing "Truffle Shuffle" while searching for truffles. Coming back to the main cast, an unnamed female pirate appears on the island to convince the pirates that girls can be good pirates with the "Real Pirate," and then Kermit leads the whole cast in the closing number "Let the Good Shine Out" as an attempt to convince them that being nice is rewarding.
   
The plot works extremely well for the video. The pirates' attempts to make Kermit a pirate move the tape along at a very enjoyable pace. Each argument they make leads to a new song and a new situation so that the audience is never bored. However, some parts of the plot seem a bit forced. At a few points, Kermit seems to push the plot along by making inquiries about pirate life that seem slightly out of character for the frog. Yet the rich plot outweighs the few bad moments to be extremely effective.
   
Character moments are definitely a high point of the video. Rather than common choices like Gonzo and Rizzo, the crew made the decision to form the plot around the new Muppet trio of Clueless, Mad Monty, and Polly. Bill Barretta, Jerry Nelson, and Kevin Clash each make their characters shine in this special. Also, the chorus of background pirates make this video feel even more complete. This ensemble, which includes Walleye Pike, Spotted Dick, Murray the Minstrel, Mudwell the Mudbunny, Black Dog, Old Tom, One Eyed Jack, and Calico, has many little moments that give the video even more charm.
   
Other interesting characters also make up the cast of the special. For example, the boars get to sing a song in this special. The boars here seem much more colorful and warm compared to the gruesome tribe we see in the movie, but this warmth still makes for an outstanding performance. Muppeteers such as Steve Whitmire and Jerry Nelson steal the show in the boar portion, making their characters ones worth remembering. Also, the female pirate, performed by Camille Bonora, appears to sing a song. This character was more of a disappointment, as she seemed like nothing more than a device to add an extra song as a time filler, with no apparent personality depth.
  
However, the most integral part of any sing along tape is its songs. The finale "Let the Good Shine Out" puts meaningful lyrics to a catchy tune to make it my favorite of the original songs. "Truffle Shuffle" is a hard song to sing or dance to, but the well crafted composition redeems the song and makes it another one of my favorites. Other songs, such as "I'm a Rock" and "Real Pirate," are upbeat and fun, yet tend to get a little tiresome by the end. Still, each original song is definitely a high point in this video.
   
By no means is this video perfect, but it is a very fun and warm sing along video that still upholds as a quality production in my mind. It is by far my favorite of the Muppet sing along tapes, and one that I would definitely recommend to any Muppet fan for viewing. The wonderfully crafted songs, character moments, and humor keep this special as an underrated product of true Muppet caliber quality.






The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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